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Thread: Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

  1. #1
    Designated Threadkiller LincolnparkRed's Avatar
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    Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

    AVARES -- A father who accused a Mount Dora policeman last year of dumping out his infant daughter's cremated remains sued the city and the officer Monday.

    Filed in Lake Circuit Court, the lawsuit accuses the city and Officer Brad Cline of illegally stopping and searching Jason Burnham, 34, as he was walking home after Hurricane Charley.

    During the stop, Burnham's suit says, Cline emptied the ashes from a cross-shaped pendant worn by Burnham, suspecting it contained cocaine.

    "This is probably the most mean-spirited violation of a person's civil rights that I have seen in many years," said Winter Park lawyer Howard Marks, one of Burnham's attorneys. "That conduct is not acceptable -- it's not warranted."

    Mount Dora Mayor James Yatsuk would not comment on the case, saying the city's insurance company likely would select the attorney to represent the city.

    The seven-count lawsuit accuses the city of false arrest/false imprisonment and detention of Burnham, and violation of his right to privacy. It accuses the city and Cline of invasion of privacy and violation of Burnham's civil rights. Finally, it accuses Cline of intentional infliction of emotional distress on Burnham.

    It asks for damages in excess of $15,000 each from the city and the officer.

    "Burnham was illegally patted down, illegally searched and illegally detained, all without probable cause or reasonable suspicion that Burnham had committed a crime," the suit states.

    Cline, who could not be reached for comment, resigned from the department three months ago, said Jane Green of the city's Human Resources Department. She said he was not disciplined in the Burnham incident.

    Police Department spokesman Lt. Roger Chilton said Cline resigned to run a mortgage-brokering business but still works for the department as a reserve officer doing undercover or drug work when necessary.

    Chilton said the department stands by its internal investigation that determined it was Cline's word against Burnham's.

    "We did an investigation and determined that we couldn't prove or disprove that these allegations were true," Chilton said. "Both parties admit being with each other . . . and to having the necklace. But that's where one says he dumped it out, and the other says he didn't."

    Cline was on patrol Aug. 14 in the aftermath of Hurricane Charley when he said he saw Burnham walking on Highland Street about 2:30 a.m. According to the police report, Cline said Burnham "appeared to be intoxicated."

    The officer questioned Burnham about "a variety of issues, including illegal drug use," according to the lawsuit.

    Burnham said he had a prescription for Xanax that he was taking because he was depressed over his daughter's death.

    After examining the pills, Cline questioned Burnham about the pendant, the lawsuit says. It contained the ashes of Carli Miracle Burnham, who died at the age of 9 months in 2002. She was napping with her father when he mistakenly rolled on top of her, suffocating her. The death was ruled accidental, and no charges were filed.

    Taking the pendant from Burnham, the officer broke its seal and dumped the ashes on the hood of his patrol car, the suit says.

    "Defendant Cline, after seeing that the ashes were not cocaine, wiped Plaintiff Burnham's daughter's ashes to the ground," the suit says.

    The suit also notes that Cline "failed to follow the city's policy in that he failed to turn on his lights and or his camera during the stop."

    Burnham was not charged and was allowed to continue on his way.

    "Cline's conduct was outrageous beyond all bounds of decency and utterly intolerable in a civilized society," Burnham's lawyers wrote in the suit.

    The suit claims that Burnham has endured "mental suffering, embarrassment, humiliation, disgrace and injury to his feelings and reputation."

    Burnham, who lived in Tangerine at the time of the incident, now lives with his mother-in-law in Marion County.

    He loads trucks for a trucking company. He said he lost the empty pendant when it fell off his necklace afterward.

    "It's been real stressful," he said. "It really bothers me a lot. I'm scared to go anywhere now."

    He said he wanted the Police Department to discipline the officer.

    "He knows what he did."
    I gotta say from just reading the article I would believe the guy over the cop since the cop didn't follow procedure and tape the whole incident
    Climbing down from the bridge, but keeping the torch lit until Dusty's fate is settled

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  3. #2
    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

    What is an illegal search and patdown?

    I'm just curious, because a few years ago, I was patted down and searched for being the passenger in a car of a friend who was driving down a country road late at night. We were stopped for driving too slow, going ten miles under the speed limit in Champaign County. That is all we were doing, and we were pulled out of the car and searched for it. My friend had his pocket knife confiscated. The officer told he and I that we had to leave "his" county and that he didn't want to see us back there.

    Obviously, we were both pretty angry, and didn't know why we were stopped and searched in such a manner.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

    Obviously, we were both pretty angry, and didn't know why we were stopped and searched in such a manner.
    Profiling?
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    Profiling?
    Two teenage caucasian guys at 2:30 AM trying to find their way back home and lost in the country? Possible, I guess.
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

  6. #5
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

    Two teenage caucasian guys at 2:30 AM
    That fits the profile of "up-to-no-gooders." I used to fit that profile, too.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  7. #6
    Where's my chair? REDREAD's Avatar
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    Re: Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

    The cop was probably desparate to meet his DUI quota for the month.
    Thank you Walt and Bob for going for it in 2010-2014!

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  8. #7
    Tired of talk. Win! Joseph's Avatar
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    Re: Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

    30,000 seems like a strange amount to request.

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    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Cop dumps baby's ashes during suspected public intox stop

    Quote Originally Posted by savafan
    What is an illegal search and patdown?

    I'm just curious, because a few years ago, I was patted down and searched for being the passenger in a car of a friend who was driving down a country road late at night. We were stopped for driving too slow, going ten miles under the speed limit in Champaign County. That is all we were doing, and we were pulled out of the car and searched for it. My friend had his pocket knife confiscated. The officer told he and I that we had to leave "his" county and that he didn't want to see us back there.

    Obviously, we were both pretty angry, and didn't know why we were stopped and searched in such a manner.
    I had a similar experience somewhere in southern Mississippi while on a camping trip with a bunch of my fraternity brothers when I was an undergrad in New Orleans. We were stopped at a roadside checkpoint which basically amounted the officers giving us all a hard time and telling us "not to be up to nothing" in his jurisidiction.

    Technically speaking, the probable cause requried for a "Stop and Frisk" (known as a "Terry Stop" since the authority derrives from the case of Terry v. Ohio) is relatively low. Basically the police officer must be able to have "reasonable suspicion" (based on his training as an officer and the circumstances of the time) to order you to stop and identify yourself. During such a stop, the police officer is authorized to pat a subject down when he feels that his safety may be in question. The pat down is limited to a tactile search only, and the police officer only has a right to remove and inspect objects that he believes are weapons or dangerous objects. The officer is also allowed to seize any instrumentalities or fruits of a crime that he finds to be in "plain view" during such a stop, so he doesn't have to ignore anything that he sees in the open or that you are carrying when he stops you. There is no requirement that an officer read Miranda warnings prior to a search.

    Incidentally, these rules also apply to cars; the officer can only do a limited pat down of your person when he pulls you over and can only feel around the immediate area of the passanger or driver for weapons or other dangerous objects that might be ready-at-hand. Anything that he sees in the car that is out and in plain view, he has a right to seize and inspect.

    Once an officer has cause to arrest you, he has the right to conduct a "search incident to a lawful arrest," where he is allowed to do a more thorough pat-down and also a more thorough search of a vehicle.
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